Over the last couple of months I had been doing a lot of paddling, however I realised that every time I was going out on the water I was doing it for a purpose. I had set myself all these goals, like trying to explore as many new waterways as I could or trying to do “One Interesting Thing a Day” or I was out filming all sorts of video footage for my Top 5 Paddles in Sydney video. Without realising it, I had started putting a whole lot of pressure on myself to go paddling, rather than just enjoying the experience.

So this morning, after a week of pretty much sitting on my computer, I went for a paddle on Mangrove Creek. It was just a paddle for the sake of a paddle. I took no cameras (apart form my phone), I didn’t listen to any podcasts or audio books. I just enjoyed the scenery and the sounds of the birds. It was freezing cold but it was the best paddle I have done for a long time.

It has been 2.5 months since I stopped working to take a break and the other day I realised I haven’t really taken a break. In fact, I dived into doing so many projects that I started to almost burn myself out. My mind has been constantly on the go and I have been having troubles sleeping because there is so many things to think about. While I have been enjoying all the things I have been doing, I have been doing them all at an unnecessarily fast pace and a sense of urgency. This is totally crazy because the one thing I have at the moment is time. It also happens to have coincided with me taking up drinking coffee again (after 3 years), so the extra amount of caffeine in my blood stream is not helping me slow down.

I am glad I have had this realisation, because I can now change gears and slow down a bit. I can still work on all my projects and do all the things I have been doing, I just don’t need to try and get them all done at the same time and certainly don’t need to set any rediculous timelines.

Time to start enjoying my break.

Below are all the details about my Top 5 Paddles in Sydney, as featured in the video above.


#1 – Sydney Harbour

Description

This is an iconic paddle and had to be the No.1 paddle on my list. This has been one of my most regular paddling areas because there are so many different directions you can explore. I tend to launch at Clontarf Reserve (where there is free parking) and head out towards Grotto Point. Once at Grotto Point you can either head towards Manly (to the North), head out to the Sydney Heads (to the East) or head towards the city (to the South).

Being that this is Sydney Harbour, there are plenty of things to see and always a lot of action on the water. If you head to the city you can paddle right up to many of Sydney’s iconic locations, including Bradleys Head, Taronga Zoo and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

There are 3 main directions you can head from Clontarf

Launching Point

I like to launch at Clontarf Reserve because it is easy to access and there is free parking if you park on Monash Crescent. If you go into the main Clontarf Reserve carpark (in the picnic area) you will have to pay for parking. You can park at The Spit near Sydney Harbour Kayaks, but it is expensive and it is a nightmare to navigate getting to the parking and out of it because of a lot of “No Right Turn” and “No Left Turn” signs.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/MYWP6gtqCT6cXRkHA

Carpark on Monash Crescent is free

Options, Distances and Points of Interest

There is plenty of things to explore and check out. Below is a list of things to look check out (broken into the 3 different directions you can head.

Clontarf Reserve to Sydney City – 10km one way

  • Middle Head
  • Chowder Bay
  • Bradleys Head (and HMAS Sydney)
  • Taronga Zoo
  • The Lodge (The PM’s house)
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Luna Park
  • The Opera House (if you want to cross the harbour with all the ferry traffic)

Clontarf Reserve to Manly Beach – 9.5km one way

  • Dobroyd Head
  • Reef Bay
  • Manly Cove Beach
  • Manly Warf

Clontarf Reserve to Shelly Beach – 9km one way

  • The Quarantine Station
  • North Head
  • Shelly Beach
  • Manly Beach

Things to Watch Out For

  • Manly ferries and Manly Fast ferries go by about every 15 minutes. They stick to the middle of the harbour, so should not cause too many issues. If you are heading out to the main heads, you will need to time your crossing of the harbour.
  • Middle Head and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge can get very choppy

Good Eating after the Paddle


#2 – Cowan Creek (Bobbin Head)

Description

This is the location that I paddle the most regularly as it is very close to my home. This close proximity is not the reason that it rates so highly, it is because it is such a beautiful and peaceful spot. The paddle starts from the Bobbin Head Picnic Grounds and you can either head the South (turning right) and go up Cowan Creek, past the marina or you can head North (turning left) and head to Cottage Point. Both directions are excellent paddles and allow you to really enjoy the surrounding Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

One word of warning, if it is low tide, heading up Cowan Creek can get quite shallow in parts. I tend to avoid going that way in low tide.

Launching Point

The Bobbin Head Picnic Area can be accessed from 2 directions. You can come from the South via North Turramurra or you can come from the North/West via Asquith. There is a designated Canoe Launching Point at the Southern end of the Bobbin Head Picnic Area. If it is low tide, Cockle Creek (where you get in) is pretty shallow. The Picnic Area is in the National Park, so you will either have to pay for parking or have a National Parks annual pass.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/pu7Y7RDW5U6Emscp8

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is map_clontarf.jpg
Canoe Launch Area is location at the South end of the Picnic Area

Options and Distances

There are basically 2 directions that you can head and both are great paddles. If you head towards Cottage Point (to the North) you are unlimited in how far you can go.

  • Bobbin Head Picnic area to Cowan Creek South – 9km return
  • Bobbin Head Picnic area to Cottage Point – 7.7km one way

Things to Watch Out For

  • If the tide is low, heading up Cowan Creek (to the South) can get pretty shallow
  • Watch out for cyclists on the roads heading down to Bobbin Head (especially if coming from Turramurra and on weekends). It is a very popular road for riding and you may need some patience while driving behind these cyclists (especially heading up the hills).

Good Eating after the Paddle


#3 – Scotland Island

Description

Scotland Island sits at the southern end of Pittwater and makes for a great paddle. If you want a relatively short trip, you can can simply paddle around the island. Otherwise you can head further up into Pittwater, past The Basin and up towards Palm Beach.

Launching Point

There is a great launching point at McCarrs Creek Reserve, which provides free parking and is an easy place to put in.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/nMaZYtgcgUUP8RW19

Launch area at McCarrs Creek Reserve

Options and Distances

There are many options and they are all great paddles.

  • McCarrs Creek Reserve around Scotland Island – 9km return
  • McCarrs Creek Reserve to Palm Beach – 9km one way

Good Eating after the Paddle


#4 – Palm Beach

Description

Palm Beach sits at the northern end of Pittwater and is right next to the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. From Palm Beach you can basically head in any direction. Paddling around the Barrenjoey Headlands is always a fun paddle (if the swell is not too high) and there is a colony of seals that live amongst the rocks. You can also head further north, into Broken Bay, towards Lion Island, Patonga and Umina.

Launching Point

The temptation is to park in the various carparks at the northern end of Barrenjoey Beach… but don’t. It is pretty expensive. There is a small, free parking spot near the golf course club house at the southern end of Barrenjoey Beach.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/Mudci4BzdJTBfkYB7

Free parking near the Golf Course club house

Options and Distances

There are a couple of trips that I regularly do.

  • Around Barrenjoey Head – 8km return
  • Around Lion Island – 10km return

Things to Watch Out For

  • Once you go around the headland, it can get quite choppy because you are basically in the ocean.
  • There is a seal colony on the headland. You can sometimes also see seals at the base of West Head.

Good Eating after the Paddle


#5 – Berowra Waters

Description

Berowra Waters is a real a hidden gem. It is a great spot if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. From Berowra Waters you can head to the South towards Crosslands Reserve, however I generally prefer to head to the North (as shown in the video). There are lots of inlets to explore and it nice open waterways to paddle along. You can get some pretty spectacular fog and mist around the hills if you paddle first thing in the morning.

Launching Point

There is a great boat ramp (Dust Hole Boat Ramp) at Berowra marina. Parking is free and there is a great cafe (Berowra Waters Fish Cafe) right next to it. If you are coming from the East (Berowra Heights), you will need to cross Berowra Creek on the car ferry. The ferry runs 24/7 and only takes a few minutes to cross.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/nMaZYtgcgUUP8RW19

Note – Ferry Closure 1 June 2020 for 6 weeks
https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/berowra-waters-ferry-upgrade/index.html
There is going to be 6 weeks of upgrade works being done to the Ferry and will be closed for 6 weeks. You will be able to access the marina from the West (via Arcadia). I have never found a launching point on the Eastern (Berowra Heights) side, but you may be able to get creative.

Canoe Launch Area is location at the South end of the Picnic Area

Options and Distances

There are basically 2 directions that you can head and both are great paddles.

  • Berowra Waters to Berowra Creek Campground (via Crosslands Reserve) – 14km return
  • Berowra Waters towards the Hawkesbury River – As far as you want

Things to Watch Out For

  • Heading to the South towards Crosslands Reserve can get pretty shallow if it is low tide and you will find you hit the bottom of the creek a fair bit (especially past Crosslands Reserve. The tide can also be quite strong in both directions, so plan your paddle so you don’t need to paddle against it.

Good Eating after the Paddle

Anyone that has known me for a while will know that I always need a personal project (or five) on the go at any one time. Whether it is a blog, a podcast, a website, an adventure, some health kick or some other random thing, I have to have something on the go to keep me motivated and happy. If I don’t have a project to occupy my mind, I get very fidgety, mopey and I tend to drive the family mad.

I have just passed my first month of my career break and I have been thinking about what my next project is going to be. My project over the last month was to start paddling all the waterways in Sydney and to run/hike on all the local tracks in our area. This project has been going very well. I just looked at my MapMyFitness calendar and over the last month I have paddled 16 times (260km) and run/hiked 7 times (60km). My map of Sydney is looking pretty healthy.

map_20200504

However, I have to admit I think I have overdone the paddling somewhat. The last few paddles have been a pretty laborious and my upper body has started getting a bit achy. I had planned to start paddling the length of Hawkesbury River, however the other day I drove along it on the way home from a paddle, and it looked really boring. It is very wide and it has a lot of long (multiple kilometres), straight stretches of windswept and tidal water. So I think I am done with that part of the world.

This week I have decided press pause on the kayaking and it is going to be “Hike Week”. It is time to give my upper body a break and start exhausting my legs instead. This morning I went for a nice 12km hike in the Lane Cove National Park to get things started. It wasn’t a very long walk, but I wanted to ease myself into it.

While I was walking and pondering, I came up with the idea of doing an experiment to see if I can do one interesting thing each day. Basically what this means is that each day I am going to strive to do something different, something new or something that is more interesting that just sitting on the computer watching YouTube. I have essentially been doing this over the last month by default, but I thought it would be an interesting personal project to challenge myself to start mixing things up and it will hopefully keep me motivate to get off my butt and to do something each day.

Now (obviously) I have to currently do things within the limitations of the current social distancing restrictions, but in a way I think this will force me to be more creative.

In order to keep myself in check, I plan to post a single photo each day on Facebook. I think that rather than saturating FB with lots of photos, it will be more interesting to post just one photo encapsulates the thing I have done that day. There has recently been many people sharing their daily favourite albums, movies and the like, so I thought this would be a different twist on this daily post idea.

The other side benefit of this project is that it will hopefully give me some new content to blog about. I haven’t been overly motivated to write my blog over the last couple weeks because I feel like all I have had to say has been “I went paddling today”.

The OCD in me feels slightly disappointed that I wasn’t able to start this project on the first day of the month, so I will have to settle on starting on the 4th of the month. So here are the daily photos of the last 4 days to make me feel a bit better about missing the 1st days of May.

So let’s see how this goes and see how long I can keep it interesting.

I was just saying to Kath this morning, I think my full time job is now kayaking, I just need to work out how to monetise it. I have managed to paddle 5 of the last 6 days (a total of 11 hours and 65km). My body seems to be coping with this excessive amount of exercise and it is certainly giving me something to do during these social distancing times

This week was all about filling gaps on my map of Sydney waterways. I manage to fill a couple of the big gaps, including the remainder of Pittwater and the Parramatta River. I had planned to get all the way up to Parramatta from Putney, but found they don’t let you go past Silverwater Road (only ferries allowed), so I had to turn around earlier than hoped.

What was interesting about the paddles this week was I had a real variety of waterways. I had rivers, harbours, ocean, bush, suburbs and dense urban areas. Rather than post lots of photos of each trip, here is a single photo from each trip that pretty much summarises that days paddle.

So my master map is now starting to look pretty good. I do need to paddle along the coast at some point, to connect the northern Pittwater/Hawkesbury paddles and the southern Sydney Harbour paddles. I will wait until the social distancing restrictions are lifted before doing those, because they involve putting in at some of the more popular beaches.

master

Next week’s mission is to knock off a couple of paddles on Berowra Creek. After that I am not sure where I will go, because I will need to start travelling further from home to the likes of the Nepean and the upper Hawkesbury. Again, I might wait until the restrictions have been lifted before heading that far afield. So it looks like I might start repeating some of my regular spots.

Today was technically meant to be a rest day, but instead I took Kath out for a nice leisurely paddle up Cowan Creek at Bobbin Head. It was nice to actually have some company on one of my paddles. I also got to paddle James’ new Mirage 532 kayak for the first time. It took a bit of getting used to the narrower cockpit and the higher seat, but it was very enjoyable to use. However, I think my butt has shaped itself to my Barracuda Enigma now, so I am happy to continue using my boat for the time being.

That is enough about Kayaking. This week I also recorded an Aunty Monkey podcast with Brad Temeyer. Brad is a meteorologist from the US that does the weather for a lot of the big events in the US and also lots of international competitions. Being a weather nerd, it was really interesting chatting to him about all the things he does behind the scenes.

instagram_ep27

So the Robbos are managing to keep ourselves busy during these social distancing restrictions. James is just finishing off his school holidays (“study break”) and heads back to virtual school on Tuesday. It looks like Year 12 at Knox may head back to real classes in a few weeks, but there are still no firm plans.

Kath and I are doing a lot of hypothetical planning for travel next year. We are looking at different scenarios of when to do our big US trip, some Australian travel and when I should plan to do the Murray River expedition. It is all so up in the air at the moment, so we are a long way from making firm plans, but it gives us something the dream about.

What I am Reading: I am still working my way through Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It is great, but since I have been exercising so much, I find that I am very quickly falling asleep with the book in my hands.

What I am Watching: The new season of Lego Masters started this week. This is such a great show to watch. It may look like another reality show from the surface, but it is super enjoyable. Watching these die hard Lego nerds building incredible models each episode is so addictive.

Audio Book I am Listening To: I started listening to the classic Dune by Frank Herbert this week. I have tried to read it a couple of times many years ago, but never got very far. It is about 20 hours long, so I am sure it will keep me busy for a while.

Music I am Listening To: I am still on a big Australian music thing at the moment. Missy Higgins is another one my go to performers. This week, as part of the Music From The Home Front live concert last night, Missy and Tim Minchin (another favourite) performed “Carry You”. It is a fantastic version of the song they recorded for Tim Minchin’s tv series Upright (which is also definitely worth watching).

At the start of the year I realised that I was going to be spending a lot of time this year running, hiking and kayaking in our local area. In order to keep it interesting, I decided to go out of my way to find new trails, paths and waterways to make it a bit more interesting. I created a master map to track where I had been and I now use it to plan all my routes, trying to fill in all the gaps. I have to admit, this has now become a bit of an obsession and it has become my mission to walk or run every trail and paddle every waterway in our area.

This mission has become very useful over the last few weeks since we have been restricted in the travel we can do. It has forced me to stay local for my expeditions and it is making me realise (more than I already knew) that we have so many fantastic bush walks and waterways in our area.

This is also proving to be a great way for me to get fit (one of my main projects this year), as it motivates me to get out and explore. I am slowly building up the distances and time periods that I am able to comfortably run (or as I call it “ralking”, running with a bit of walking) and paddle. Currently my comfortable distances to do for each journey (without really pushing it) are about 10km of running and 20km of kayaking. I am sure these distances will get further as time goes on as I get fitter.

map_sydney

The Master Map – Blue lines show where I have kayaked this year. Light Green lines are the runs. Dark Green are the hikes. Most of these trips/lines are return trips (out and back).

map_wahroonga

Our Suburb – You can see there is plenty of bush still to explore.

We have also been doing a lot of dog walking. Poor Chloe is getting exhausted with all the walking she has to do each day (twice a day) and she is getting a lot more slender. Just like the running and kayaking, we are trying to mix up our routes to make it more interesting. I think Chloe is on her own mission to smell every agapanthus bush that other dogs have pissed on. Since I started mapping all my other forms of exercise, I decided I might as well start mapping her walks. Below are the roads we have travelled in the last 3 weeks since the social distancing really kicked in.

map_dog_walk

Chloe’s walks

What is great about varying up the walks in the streets, with the dog, is that we get to see all the bears in the windows of houses. People all around the world are placing teddy bears in their windows as part of social distancing, to provide a distraction from coronavirus for children.

2020-04-untitled shoot-00001

Our Ted E. Bare doing his part for the children

Apart from all the exercise, the last week has been very busy creating content. I managed to get the Aunty Monkey podcast resurrected and put out 2 new episodes. The first with one of my all time favourite human beings, Deano Pegg, and the other with world record holder, Kim Magee. It was great chatting with both of them, even if I did feel a bit rusty with my interviewing techniques.

I have also spent a fair bit of time preparing the first video podcast episode. It will be going out in the next few days and it will be interesting to see how that is received by the Aunty Monkey fans.

So another week down and I am still managing to keep busy.

What I am Reading: I gave up reading Around The World In Wonder Socks: Travel tales of a Nony – not old not young, somewhere in the middle by Arthur Penlington for now. I think I have read too many books recently about other people travelling, which is just making our travel restrictions that little harder to handle. I have decided it is time to read something a little bit more intellectual, so I am about to start reading Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Mum and Dad gave it to me for Christmas and it has been sitting by my bed ever since.

What I am Watching: I finished the 3rd season of Ozark the other day. It is such a good show and this season did not disappoint. I have now just started watching Season 5 of Better Call Saul.

Audio Book I am Listening To: I have just started listening to Ben Folds’ autobiography A Dream About Lightning Bugs – A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons. I am not sure why I am listening to so many autobiographies by musicians at the moment, but it may have something to do with the fact I am listening to a lot more music recently.

Music I am Listening To: This week am going through a bit of a nostalgic Australian live music thing. The album I just found and am enjoying is The Waifs – Live From The Union of Soul. It has a couple of cameos from John Butler (who I am also listening to a lot at the moment) and Clare Bowditch. Speaking of John Butler and live music, I have also been listening to his Live At Red Rocks album, which has always been one of my favourites of his.

The First Seven Days

I am coming to the end of the first week since leaving corporate life and I seem to have survived. As a result of the Covid-19 saga, I wasn’t able to head off on my planned kayaking adventure down the Murrumbidgee, so it has been a little weird as I don’t feel like I really had a proper break between working and not working. I have sort of just morphed straight from one to the other and nothing really feels different. Every now and then, for example if I am kayaking at 10am on a Tuesday morning, I get the guilts because I feel like I am slacking off work. I know that over time I will get over this.

It has been interesting to see how quickly I have fallen into a natural routine for each day. I get up, have brekky, walk the dog, exercise, potter around doing odd jobs, have lunch, do some reading, do some learning, walk the dog, have dinner, watch some telly, read some more and go to sleep. With all the social distancing limitations, I think this will pretty much be the routine for the next few months.

One of the things I am going out of my way to do is to do a lot of exercise. Getting super fit is my main project at the moment. We are fortunate to live so close to a great variety of waterways and bushland, so it is really easy to disappear into the wilderness and do some interesting runs and kayaking. So each day (on alternating days) I am going out for either a trail run (“leg day”) or a paddle (“arm day”). I have managed to do 6 out of the 7 days, which is a lot more exercise than I would typically do. I needed a rest day on Wednesday because my body said “no more”.

Like many other families, our dog Chloe is going for a lot more walks than she would normally. She has been exhausted. She has always gone out twice a day, but the afternoon visit to the dog park is normally more social for the humans and she typically lies on the ground chewing a stick. So now the socialisation has ceased, she is now getting two proper walks a day and she is knackered. The best bit is that she is so tired that she actually sleeps past 6.15am in the mornings.

IMG_2220

To Paddle or Not to Paddle? – That is the question.

I have been giving the whole issue of whether I should still be kayaking a lot of thought. There has been a fair bit of debate on the various Facebook groups I follow about whether it is socially responsible to still go kayaking. After a lot of consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the way I am approaching it is as responsible (if not more so) than most people who go out for a run, bike ride or walk for exercise.

Currently the Australian government is allowing us to go outside for exercise and NSW Maritime are allowing kayaking on NSW waterways for the purpose of exercise. Victoria, on the other hand, have now banned kayaking all together on the grounds that it is “not essential exercise”. I personally think the term “essential exercise” is a very broad and subjective statement. Based on this definition (or lack of definition), I would argue that riding your bike would not be considered “essential exercise” either. I understand that having groups of people in kayaks, floating around in the sun and maybe trying to catch a fish is not exercise. However, when I paddle, it is 2-3 hours of continuous paddling with the purpose of getting fit, which I classify as exercise.

Also the way I approach it is that I typically head out before sunrise when no one is around. I get into my car in the driveway, drive 5-10 minutes down the road to a remote launching point in the bush, paddle alone on the quiet waterways and then drive straight home. During this time, I have no contact with any people and I don’t touch any surfaces that other people are likely to ever touch. In contrast, on the way home I normally pass groups of cyclists riding together and/or hanging around outside a coffee shop chatting, which seems a lot more risky than what I am doing.

I have a similar approach for the runs that I am doing. Due to an ongoing issue with shinsplints, I can’t really run for prolonged periods of time on concrete, so I tend to run on the bush tracks and fire trails around our suburb. As with the kayaking, it is very rare that I will come across anyone while on these runs. Again in contrast, I was driving past our local oval yesterday and there were so many people exercising that it looked like a school sports carnival.

So for my the sake of my own physical and mental health I am going to continue kayaking and running in the bush…in solitude.

Update on my Projects

I am happy to report that a lot of the odd jobs I had written on my whiteboard have been ticked off. All sorts of jobs, ranging from reattaching gutters to the house to fixing the handle on one of our umbrellas, have been completed.

In my last post I mentioned that my big project for the week was to resurrect the Aunty Monkey podcast. I spent sometime this week sorting out all the online assets for the podcast and remembering how all the recording and editing equipment works. I have two exciting interviews lined up next week, so things are progressing really well and should have an episode published mid next week.

So overall a pretty good first week of my career break.

Here is my weekly list of things…

Reading: Around The World In Wonder Socks: Travel tales of a Nony – not old not young, somewhere in the middle by Arthur Penlington. The book is full of stories from a 50+ old Brisbane fellow who decides (after his marriage ends) to sell his house, pack a backpack and start traveling the world with no plans. No… I am not getting any ideas.

Watching: Like everyone around the world, we have just finished watching Tiger King. Wow… just wow. I have now just started watching the long awaited 3rd season of Ozark… such a good show.

Audio Book I am Listening To: While running and kayaking I have been listening to the autobiography of Tim Rogers (the lead singer of You Am I) called Detours. Tim is a great writer (both music and now books) and since he reads it himself, he adds a lot of extra personality to the book. It has a lot of really enjoyable stories from his childhood and his days on the road.

Music I am Listening To: As a result of listening to Tim Rogers’ audiobook, I have been really getting into the back collection of You Am I this week. In particular the This is: You Am I playlist.

Music I am NOT listening to: Pearl Jam released a new album this week called Gigaton. I really like the stuff Pearl Jam did in the 90s and I really like a lot of Eddie Vedder’s solo work, especially the Into the Wild Soundtrack. However, this new album is really weak and I don’t plan to listen it again. Pearl Jam’s place is in the 90s and they should stay there.

Learning: This week I decided to go back to the basics of video editing and start learning Adobe Premiere Pro from scratch by going through the Adobe Premiere Pro CC Video Editing: The Complete Guide with Abba Shapiro Creative Live classes. I have been using Premiere Pro for years but never bothered taking any classes. So now that I have time, I have gone back to the beginning and while I know 80% of what they have taught so far, the other 20% has been really helpful. I am even starting to use Hot Keys to do things.

Gadget I am Loving: As part of getting ready for recording podcasts, I have dusted off my Zoom H5 recorder. This 4 track recorder is great for capturing really clean audio and really easy to use.

Clarity in the Fog

Today is the first day of my career break. I thought it was going to be very surreal and I would take a while to work out what I wanted to do first. However, it seems to be completely the opposite. I am totally motivated to start doing things and I know exactly what I am going to do first.

I woke up this morning at about 4am (only slightly due to alcohol induced dehydration) and my mind was already ticking over with the things that I could start doing.

The original plan was to spend the first 4 days of my break continuing paddling down the Murrumbidgee (Gundagai to Wagga Wagga), however due to all the physical isolation restrictions (confusions) going on, I decided to cancel that trip and stay home. Fortunately we have plenty of water and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park at the end of our road, so I was able to head out for an early morning paddle. It was great to get on the water again after a couple of weeks of healing my sore wrist (which seems to be better) and to be paddling in water that is deeper than a foot.

Paddling is when I do all my thinking. For me, spending a few hours out in the water, in your own head, with the repetitive sound of the paddle pulling through the water, has proven to be better than any meditation technique I have ever tried. Today was especially good for deep thinking, because I was paddling in pea soup fog. Only being able to see a few metres in front of me removed all distractions and allowed me to start processing the jumble of thoughts racing through my head.

My biggest point of clarity was that I now have a lot of time on my hands and no set deadlines for anything. Rather than wondering what I am going to be doing in the next few months or years, I can focus on what I want to do now. I can basically pick a project from my list of things I want to do and start working on it.

So what is the first project going to be? Well, I have decided it is time to resurrect the Aunty Monkey Podcast. It has been 1.5 years since we have recorded an episode and I have been thinking about starting it up again for a while. With all the shit going on with Covid-19 at the moment, I figured that this is the ideal to provide balloonists with a bit of light relief from all the stresses and frustrations they are facing. So that is my project for this week. I already have a couple of exciting guests lined up and now I just have to remember how to set up all the recording equipment and editing tools again.

am_podcast

The other thing I decided this morning (I told you I did lots of thinking) was to make this blog a more public. I have been writing this blog for the last 10 years now and never really publicised it. Not because it is private, it is just that I never really thought anyone would want to read my random ramblings. Every now and then I have moments when I feel like writing and it has basically been my own personal journal. A journal that I occasionally go back to look at when I am feeling nostalgic or want to remember when or where a previous adventure was. With my departure from work and all the talk about some of my future plans, people have been asking me to share my adventures with them. So I figure there is no better way than via this blog. I will leave it to people (you I guess… if you are actually reading this) to decide if you want to bother reading my random thoughts.

I also thought it was a good way to share some of the other things I am doing. Little things like what I am reading, watching, listening to, learning etc. So I am going to try (this could be terribly short lived) and post a summary of those things on a regular basis. So here is the first list:

Reading: Beyond the Trees: A Journey Alone Across Canada’s Arctic – Adam Shoalts

Watching: I am addicted to Ice Pilots on Amazon Prime and we just started watching Tiger King on Netflix, which is totally insane.

Listening To: I have been listening a lot to two of my regular playlists and albums on Spotify. The This Is Angus & Julia Stone playlist and the Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998 – 2016 album.

Learning: Over the last year or so, I have been doing a lot of learning about photography and film production using Creative Live. I am currently going through the Storytelling on Location class by Corey Rich, who is one of my favourite producers of adventure photography and film.

Gadget I am Loving: Even though I have had my Garmin inReach GPS for a while, a couple of weeks ago, while paddling solo on the Murrumbidgee, I started using the full inReach features. The SOS function acts as an EPIRB if there is an emergency. I was able to use it to message (via satellite) Kath and my folks when I had no mobile service and they were able to track my location and progress.